Elsa Brydalski on How Graphic Design Keeps Her Sharp and Creative
Elsa Mae Brydalski was two years into a Philosophy degree when she discovered graphic design in 2017. For that reason, she refers to graphic design as a pot of gold at the end of the self-discovery rainbow. Looking back at her experience at Columbia College Chicago, she tells us about her involvement with the American Institute of Graphic Design and some of her favorite projects.
“I wanted to go back to school for something that was structured, yet versatile, had the power to persuade, and could allow me to be creative with a purpose,” says Brydalski. “Graphic Design has been that for me as it’s challenged me to think critically and logically in visual and communicative ways while sharpening my creativity.”
A Buffalo, New York native, Brydalski was looking to move to a new city for school. She felt that her intuition led her to Chicago. “Columbia’s values convinced me that it could give me a great education in a dynamic, diverse, and inclusive environment. I was so sure of this school that my dog and I moved into an apartment with a stranger a few days before I was even officially accepted into the college! My experiences here have been priceless,” she says.
Brydalski's sustainable laundry detergent packaging design
Elsa credits Columbia faculty members as the backbone of her educational journey recognizing their passion for design as well as the fact that they stay immersed in the field. In addition to greatly enjoying her classes and faculty guidance, Brydalski also notes her involvement with the American Institute of Graphic Design (AIGA) Columbia as having positively influenced her time at the school. “I am the Vice President of the AIGA Columbia. Being involved in AIGA Columbia has allowed me to connect with incredible students, teachers, and designers both within and outside of the school,” she says. “AIGA Columbia has been a consistently positive part of my time at Columbia, and I encourage anyone who is interested to join if they are looking for design feedback, extra activities to take part in, or just want to network or meet fellow designers.”
When asked about some of her favorite design projects, she mentions a project in her Packaging Design class where she researched the concept for a sustainable laundry detergent and then created a 3D rendering of the product. “It was great to produce a solution that allowed Tide to still look great on the shelf while reducing waste. It was one of those projects that made me say to myself, ‘Yes, you are in the right field, and you can do this,’” says Brydalski. She also mentions having worked on a t-shirt design for her Typography class, which was accepted into Columbia’s gift shop. “This project was great because it taught me about type-anatomy and about working with clients. They are still for sale if you would like to purchase one at shop.colum.edu.”
Brydalski's t-shirt design at ShopColumbia, Columbia's gift shop
Currently, Brydalski is working on an installation project at Columbia’s C33 Gallery called “Artists & Models”—a Tribute to the South Side Community Art Center, a printed portfolio fashioned after the look and feel of a Vogue magazine, and an awareness campaign about the chemical BPA that is found in most paper receipts. “For this project, I hope to persuade more people to opt-in to digital receipts whenever offered at the store which will not only save paper and ink but also reduce BPA from getting into the environment and into our skin,” she says.
All in all, Brydalski is making the most of her Columbia experience and hopes other students will do the same. “Find what inspires you and incorporate it!”